Is kennel cough contagious to cats, or only contagious to dogs? What causes kennel cough anyway? If cats can get it, how dangerous is it for them?
What is Kennel Cough
Also called canine infectious tracheobronchitis (trachea= breathing tube) (bronchia= bronchial tubes) (itis= inflammation of), kennel cough is a general term we use for a very infectious canine disorder.
That long medical term means “Inflammation of the trachea or/and bronchial tubes that is infectious to dogs”.
So, kennel cough is a pretty general, umbrella term.
For example, bronchitis is usually part of a larger disease, and just inflammation of the bronchial tube lining by itself. The disease is what causes the inflammation in the first place. Bronchitis is a symptom of whatever disease caused it.
Kennel cough is also similar, a symptom of the pathogen that caused it. Most (not all) kennel cough situations in dogs stem from Bordetella, but can also be caused by:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Canine adenovirus type two
- Canine parainfluenza virus
- Canine respiratory coronavirus
Kennel cough got its name because it is very contagious and easily spread among large groups of animals, like what you would see at the average kennel. If an animal has Kennel Cough, he is usually isolated and treated individually, somewhere he can’t infect other animals or spread his illness.
This coronavirus causing Covid-19 in humans (yes, some dogs are susceptible) is very new, as far as viruses are concerned. We may not yet have a vaccine for dogs available as you read this.
Canine respiratory coronavirus isn’t the same thing. This is caused by a different coronavirus. However, there are vaccines available for the first three pathogens you see on that list!
Is Kennel Cough Contagious to Cats?
Kennel Cough isn’t exactly one disease, but rather the name we give for a set of symptoms caused by several various pathogens. We’ve listed five of them above.
Most of us think of dogs when the term ‘kennel cough’ is mentioned, and the five individual pathogens that can cause it in dogs. But are these individual pathogens contagious to cats? Is kennel cough contagious to cats?
Is Bordetella contagious to cats?
Cats can indeed be exposed to the Bordetella bacteria when exposed to other infected animals (whether they be cats or dogs). Cats can shed this bacterium when they sneeze. This is extremely contagious, and can cause Kennel Cough in both dogs and cats!
Bordetella can impact the upper respiratory tract in cats, and is considered a primary pathogen.
Thankfully, there is a vaccine for it. If you don’t know whether your cat has been vaccinated or not, speak to your veterinarian!
Can Cats Get Parainfluenza Virus?
Canine parainfluenza virus can indeed spread to other animals, including cats! Cats are susceptible to several other types of influenza, including Avian influenza.
Parainfluenza causes similar respiratory symptoms as influenza, but they are caused by separate viruses. Influenza is believed to spread about the same way among cats as human influenza spreads among humans, and Canine influenza spreads among dogs!
So- the answer is yes! Cats can get both Parainfluenza and influenza, and it can cause Kennel Cough.
Can Cats Get Coronavirus?
There is a Feline Respiratory Coronavirus (FCoV) that can cause Kennel Cough like symptoms. In fact, there are many, many different coronaviruses! The coronavirus causing Covid-19 in humans is also said to be zoonotic, meaning it can spread to animals (including cats).
So the answer is- Yes! Cats can get some coronaviruses, and they can sometimes cause Kennel Cough like symptoms,
Remember, there isn’t just one coronavirus, but rather a large family of viruses. Cats aren’t susceptible to all of them.
Can Cats Get Mycoplasma?
This bacteria can spread easily among cats, and can indeed cause Kennel Cough like symptoms. These can include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, and several more problems!
So the answer here is Yes, cats can get ‘Kennel Cough’ from Mycoplasma infections.
Yes, Kennel Cough is Contagious to Cats!
It’s rarer for a healthy grown adult cat to contract Bordetella, the bacterium that most often causes Kennel Cough. This is much more common in dogs. It is still possible for cats to get this disorder!
Signs of Kennel Cough in Felines
An unpleasant or disturbing cough is what most cat owners will hear if their little one has kennel cough, but that certainly isn’t the only thing they might hear! You might get honking noises or/and dry retching. You could see other signs, like:
- Runny nose/ocular discharge
- Lost appetite
- Low fever
That cough you hear is a pretty powerful sign that something is going on which shouldn’t be.
Can Kennel Cough be Fatal to Cats?
It really depends on what caused the disorder, but kennel cough in felines usually isn’t fatal. Most of the time, symptoms can go away within about 7-10 days.
The situation is different for young kittens and older cats, however! Kennel cough could be more dangerous to those felines with weakened, or just weaker, immune systems. In some cases, Kennel Cough can be fatal to cats with weaker immune systems.
How Can I Avoid Kennel Cough?
The pathogens that can cause kennel cough in any animal are very contagious among groups, and will easily spread among clusters of animals. You would see this more often in larger groups at a kennel, shelter, or even a park.
It’s not called ‘Kennel Cough’ by accident!
- Vaccinate your cat for Bordetella!
-Especially important if you plan to board your cat.
- Be cautious when introducing your cat to large groups of other animals.
What to Do If My Cat Has Kennel Cough
- If you suspect your cat has Kennel Cough, isolate him from other animals to prevent the disorder from spreading.
- Consult your veterinarian for a scheduled visit. They will likely prescribe antibiotics along with a treatment plan.
- Encourage rest, along with plenty of fluids.